An Introduction to A Wizard of Earthsea

Ursula K. Le Guin
Copyright © by Marian Wood Kolisch

Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea (1968) is arguably the most widely admired American fantasy novel of the past 50 years. The book's elegant diction, geographical sweep, and mounting suspense are quite irresistible. Earthsea-composed of an archipelago of many islands-is a land of the imagination, like Oz, Faerie, or the dream-like realm of our unconscious.

Earthsea may not be a "real" world but it is one that our souls recognize as meaningful and "true:' Actions there possess an epic grandeur, a mythic resonance that we associate with romance and fairy tale.

Songs, poems, runes, spells-words matter a great deal in Earthsea, especially those in the "Old Speech" now spoken only by dragons and wizards. To work a spell one must know an object or person's "true name," which is nothing less than that object or person's fundamental essence. In Earthsea, to know a person's true name is to gain power over him or her. "A mage;' we are told, "can control only what is near him, what he can name exactly and wholly:'

Understanding the nature of things, not possessing power over them, is the ultimate goal of magic. Indeed, the greatest wizards do all they can to avoid using their skill. They recognize that the cosmos relies on equilibrium, appropriateness, and "balance"-the very name Earthsea suggests such balance-and that every action bears consequences. To perform magic, then, is to take on a heavy responsibili­ ty: One literally disturbs the balance of the universe.

Read more: An Introduction to A Wizard of Earthsea

Big Read 2015

Originally published in 1968, Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea is the first of six Earthsea Cycle titles.

The novel shares the story of Ged, the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea, who was known as "Sparrowhawk" as a reckless youth. In his hunger for power and knowledge, he tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world.

This is the exciting tale of his journey to manhood as he masters the words of power, tames a dragon, and restores balance to the world.

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. Look for more information about the 2015 Big Read events and programs coming to your hometown library.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist Michael Chabon to Visit

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist Michael ChabonCentral Oklahoma book lovers will have three opportunities to meet Pulitzer-Prize winning author Michael Chabon. Pioneer Library System (PLS) and PLS Foundation will host the celebrated  novelist at a private reception and two public presentations. Chabon’s visit is in conjunction with The Big Read, a community-wide effort to encourage reading.

Chabon’s visit begins with  a private reception Wednesday, March 25 at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $100. Proceeds benefit the PLS Foundation and the 11 branch libraries of the Pioneer Library System. For ticket information call 405-801-4511 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Chabon will present two free public lectures on Thursday, March 26.  At 10 am he will speak at Oklahoma Baptist University in the Geiger Center auditorium, 500 W. University St., Shawnee.  Then, at 7 pm he will speak at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History in Norman. Chabon will take questions and sign books at both events. 

Read more: Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist Michael Chabon to Visit